With the release of the new season’s fixtures on Friday morning there was only one real contender to be the subject of the 130th episode of our Viva Video feature. Suggesting that the FA may have a sense of romance after all, Rovers have been handed an away game at Brighton on the opening day of the 2011-12 season, meaning that Doncaster will take part in the first competitive game at Albion’s new Falmer Stadium, fourteen years after playing in the final game at their Goldstone Ground. And so in this week’s edition we look back on that April 97 fixture.
Though its looked back on in very favourable terms by fans of Brighton and Doncaster, many Rovers fans will tell you that the atmosphere in the game’s first half was not quite the love-in that may have since been projected. Both clubs were in their own personal nadir, and fans of the home side, teetering on the brink as they sat in a two-way relegation battle with Hereford, were particularly angry. Though the crux of that anger was of course directed at the regime at the helm of their own club, for a long time it seemed that anger could be redirected should Rovers dare come away from the Ground with anything more than a few seat backs and handfuls of turf.
Thankfully, for all concerned, Brighton triumphed 1-0 and thanks to some guerilla gardening and DIY there was much less left of the Goldstone Ground to be demolished at 6pm than there had been at 3pm that day. Brighton’s fans did arguably more than any other club’s supporters to aid their Rovers counterparts when Doncaster plunged into darkness the following season, and as such the club will always be many Rovers’ fans second club. Hopefully the spirit of Fans United forged in the late 90s will be revisited on 6th August.